I am, in fact, Canadian, and therefore have a love affair with beer. Last summer there was little that I enjoyed more than sitting on Adrian's porch late into the summer evening, fighting off the mosquitoes and polishing off the last of a two-four. Or celebrating with Amber after a long week of pruning and weed-whacking. Or bringing case after case out of the cars upon our arrival for camping.
In Canada, it is not hard for me to list my favourite beer; it has been the same one since high school and likely won't change.
Mill Street Organic. Locally brewed, in Toronto, and the smoothest, most refreshing summer taste known to man. And, in the words of best-friend-Jess: “You would drink an organic beer”.
However, my time in Europe has convinced me that there are even more awesome beers out there. And whether you're a close friend of mine awaiting our trip down to Chester's to find these beers, or a stranger heading out on a trip around Europe, these are the beers you should check out, the ten best of my Euro-trip:
- Kronenberg – France. I will truly miss this beer when I return. It's very similar to Mill Street Organic in taste, and smooth enough that my friends who don't like beer also enjoyed it! Santé!
- Grolsch – Netherlands. You will note that Heineken didn't make the list. I don't like Heineken. I did, however, really enjoy Grolsch. It has a fresher taste than Heineken, and I saw more Dutch people drinking it and less tourists. Best kept secret perhaps? Gezondheid!
- Beck's – Germany. I enjoyed this beer so much that I raced to write it down. It was introduced to me by the two Australian boys I met in Berlin, who had purchased a case the night before. It's a crisp-tasting and mellow pilsner, and would be best consumed in the middle of the summer. Prost!
- Struis – Netherlands. The darkest beer to appear on my list, this is a 9% brew that I tried in Amsterdam. Although I usually prefer lighter beers, I would drink this one over and over again. As hearty as a dish of stamppot, and as dark as I take my coffee. And it's not pronounced the way you're thinking, I assure you, so good luck ordering it! Proost!
- Krušovice – Czech Republic. There's no surprise that a Czech beer made my list, since they are the biggest beer consumers in the world. Most tourists head to Prague and seek out a Pilsner Urquell, but I really recommend this one instead. It's a 5% beer with a pretty dry taste and only feels mildly carbonated. Na zdraví!
- Krombacher – Germany. I don't think I'm alone in proclaiming the greatness of this beer. I had it on my hitch-hiking adventure from Dresden to Dečiv (Czech), offered to me by a fellow traveler out of his backpack. For me, this beer will always taste like mountains, rivers, adventures and fun, but if you want something more specific, I would say it's quite bitter and spicy with a very dry taste and an aftertaste that lasts forever. Prost!
- Grottenbier – Belgium. I tried this beer on second time passing through Brussels. It tastes like Springtime. At 7%, it's lighter-tasting than you would expect. The taste is hard to describe, besides employing the word 'unique'. I'll try: the taste is fairly dry, but there are unexpected flavours of dark fruits and herbs and the aftertaste is very sweet. Op uw gezondheid!
- Mahou – Spain. Purchased for me at a nightclub, I tasted this little guy and immediately called it an atrocidad. But then I went to a tiny Casa de Tapas and tried it there, and I want to formally defend the reputation of this poor beer. It's light, it's soft, it's sweet and it has no aftertaste. Sounds horrible? Try it with food instead of at a nightclub. The best complimenting beer I've ever tasted! Salud!
- Zlatý Bažant – Slovakia. My number one tip here is to not try to keep up with the Slovaks, who drink like they don't want to live. But if you have the chance to go to Bratislava, go out on a Friday and drink as many pints of this beer as you can handle. I was told by one Slovak that the beer was 5%, and by another that it was 12%. Judging by the taste, I'd guess 5%, but judging by our Friday night in Bratislava, I'd guess 12%. It has a pretty full taste, no bitterness to mention (but no fruitiness either) and no real aftertaste. Na zdravie!
- Brauhaus Nussdorf – Austria. A local brew, and I'm told it's found only at certain bars. My advice is to seek it out! It's quite pure tasting, and had very little aftertaste. It wasn't bitter, but it wasn't sweet either. It was a crsip, clean “beer” taste all the way through. Zum Wohl!